Fantasy football Stat Focus: Why Thomas will be a reliable starter

Friday September 13th, 2013
Julius Thomas caught five passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns against the Ravens in Week 1.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Here's the pre-snap alignment on the first big play, a 44-yard catch to set up 1st-and-10 on the Baltimore 23-yard-line: (All images are screen shots of All-22 film.)

That's Thomas, No. 80, lined up outside the left tackle. Terrell Suggs is directly over him, with linebacker Josh Bynes more likely to draw coverage. Indeed, as the ball is snapped, Suggs blitzes and Bynes drops into coverage. Bynes plays inside and jumps the dig run by Demaryius Thomas. Thomas has an option to either break to the sideline or go up the seam, depending on Bynes' leverage. The tight end properly reads the coverage, and takes exactly with it gives him: the out. He was able to break one tackle, resulting in a huge gain:

On the next play, Thomas is lined up in the same spot, on the left side of the line, standing up a step or two off the tackle. Bynes is forced to cover Montee Ball, as he immediately comes out of the backfield and runs a route straight at the middle of the defense. That leaves safety Michael Huff to play Thomas one-on-one with a deep safety. Here is the beginning of that play:

You can see Huff at the top left of the picture, already well outside Thomas. This gives him his first indication this time, it will likely be the seam that's open. When the play begins, Huff stays on Thomas' outside hip. With Bynes occupied by Ball, meaning no one can drop underneath his route, the seam is wide open for Thomas. Here's the play as it develops:

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